CHAPEL HILL, N.C.-- North Carolina guard Rashad McCants is
required to go to class, to show up on time for practice and to attend study hall. He has very little of the freedom most college students take for granted.
And he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I love North Carolina," McCants said Tuesday. "I wouldn't be
here if I didn't."
McCants and Tar Heels coach Roy Williams held a news conference
to explain comments McCants made to a local TV station last week.
In an interview that aired on WRAL-TV on Friday night, McCants
compared playing college basketball to being in jail. He also said
he considered his time in the program to be his job.
"It's to get up and go to school, get here and lift weights and
play basketball," McCants said in the interview. "That's my
9-to-5. As my uncle said, I'm in jail right now. You're not allowed
to do certain things, you're not allowed to say certain things.
"But once you get out of jail, you're free. So I'm just in my
sentence and I'm doing my time."
He said Tuesday he meant to give an example of how regimented
his life is with the Tar Heels. As he told Williams when explaining
the comments, he couldn't go anywhere during fall break like many
of his classmates because he had to get ready for the start of
"I do feel like there is a lot of things that are required for
us to do," McCants said. "But this is what I love to do, and I
want to make it my job someday."
The enigmatic McCants, who says he's misunderstood by people
outside the team, led North Carolina in scoring last season with an
average of 20 points. He started 29 of 30 games and was named to
the all-Atlantic Coast Conference team and was a third-team
In a game against North Carolina-Wilmington last season,
Williams sent McCants and teammate Jesse Holley to the locker room
in the first half because he said they weren't cheering enough for
their teammates on the court.
Williams downplayed the incident after the game, and he had no
further problems with McCants.
This season, McCants returned with two new tattoos -- "Born to
be hated" on his right arm and "Dying to be loved" on his left.
He talked about public perception of him earlier in the TV interview.
"The process of changing perception is like trying to get
somebody to vote for you in an election," McCants said. "I don't
think I can change anything about what people are saying about me.
I can just be me."
Williams admittedly was angry Sunday when he first learned of
the comments McCants made about prison, and he was equally upset
about the reference to a 9-to-5 job. Williams' mother worked for 51
years in a mill -- "Rashad has it a lot easier than my mother,"
Williams said -- and when McCants showed up for practice that night,
Williams told him to leave.
"I was really ticked off," he said. "I told Rashad there was
a big difference in playing college basketball and being in jail.
Like the game Monopoly, I told him I could just give him a 'Get out
of jail free' card and he could leave."
Williams changed his mind after viewing the complete interview,
which lasted about 10 minutes. McCants was introspective about his
time at North Carolina and he talked about his excitement about the
"I thought the interview was very thoughtful," Williams said.
"I guess the bottom line is I disagree with his use of the word